We have winners!

Congratulations to the winners of the giveaway for the feast of the Most Holy Name of Mary: Annie (IG), Betsy (blog), and Cecilia (FB)! And thank you to you all for sharing the beautiful Marian names you have/love/bestowed/heard in real life — I love them all!! Have a great weekend!!

My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon — perfect for expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady!

Reading round-up (including a birth announcement!)

Happy Saturday! There a few things I’ve been wanting to share with you, so I’m putting them all here in this post!

First up, Blythe (whose consultation posted back in October and whose baby was born in March — check out her Instagram @blythefike! [which I can’t link to here for some reason, darn computer]), posted yesterday all about her little guy’s name! I loved the first+middle combo ever since I first saw her announcement on IG, and I love the story of how they chose it! It’s a great example of a great nickname being the tipping point in favor of a name.

This post on the Blessed Is She blog was fun to read: Not-So-Typical Unique Catholic Baby Names. I jumped right to the boy list (for obvious reasons) and was pleasantly surprised by Drexel — I don’t think I’ve ever once thought of Drexel as a first name for a boy or a girl! I also loved the idea of Sully as a nickname for Solanus (Sonny had been my previous go-to, and I’d thought of Solly, but I like Sully even better), and in the comments, someone shared that she knows a little Charlotte, named in honor of JP2, whose nickname is Lola as a nod to Lolek! LOVE IT!

I just read this morning that the Schwandt family, who had thirteen boys and was expecting again, had their baby — another boy!! Congratulations to them!! And the name story is pretty funny!

Adding to our posts on literary names, this article on famous novelists deeply influenced by their Catholic faith is a good resource.

I hope you enjoy reading these as much as I did! Have a blessed day! (My 11yo has been saying that to everyone, every day, at home and at school, he’s the sweetest.)

My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady, is now available to order from ShopMercy.org, and should be available on Amazon soon!

Honoring St. Rita

Are you all as much a fan of St. Rita as I am? Like St. Jude, she’s a patroness of desperate and impossible causes (among other things), and I’ve seen her intercession bring about some pretty amazing, nearly miraculous things, both for myself and for others.

In this consultation from July, the mama said she had a special devotion to St. Rita, to whom she attributed the conception of the baby the consultation was for. If the baby had been a girl, she intended to give her the middle name Pearl, as a nod to St. Rita, whose given name was actually Margherita — the Italian form of Margaret, which means “pearl.” I had another conversation more recently over email with a reader who was looking for ways to honor St. Rita for both girls and boys. So I thought doing a post with some ideas of how to do so would be fun! This is what I came up with for girls

Rita would be the most obvious way of honoring St. Rita — if you gave your daughter the name Rita for either a first or a middle, people who know about saints would think, “She must be named for St. Rita!”

Margaret, Magdalene
Since St. Rita’s given name was Margherita, and Rita a nickname for it, then any of the Margaret names can honor her. And after her husband and sons died, St. Rita joined the Augustinian nuns of St. Mary Magdalene Monastery, so Magdalene could work too.

Like the mama in the July consultation I mentioned above, you could certainly use the name Pearl, since that’s what Margherita means.

In addition to meaning “pearl,” the Italian Margaret variant Margherita is the name for the daisy flower in Italian, and the French Margaret variant Marguerite is the name for the daisy flower in Italian.

St. Rita’s known as St. Rita of Cascia, and I think Cascia would be a pretty cool way to name a little girl after her. I say it KA-shuh, which is similar to established first names Kasia and Cassia.

St. Rita’s full given name was Margherita Lotti, so Lotti could make a cute nod to her, especially since Lottie is a traditional nickname for Charlotte …

… which makes me think that even Charlotte itself could be an unexpected honor name for St. Rita.

For boys, I had a few ideas that I thought could work:

I have loved and shared many times the story julianamama told of the family she knew who named their son Garrett after St. Margaret, and that would work for St. Rita as well.

John, James, Jacob
One of St. Rita’s sons was named Giangiacomo, which is a combination of two names—Gian (a short form of Giovanni=John) and Giacomo (James, Jacob). St. John the Baptist was one of her three patron saints, and when her cause for canonization was being pursued, her story was compiled by an Augustinian priest named Fr. Jacob Carelicci.

Her other son was Paolo, which makes Paul a good option.

When I’m looking to honor a woman in a boy’s name, I often look to her dad’s name for inspiration. St. Rita’s dad was Antonio, so Anthony and its variants could work.

For those looking for something unusual, Pope Urban VIII beatified Rita — one of our regular readers has an Urban!

Pope Leo XIII canonized St. Rita, so a great idea there as well!

Augustine, Nicholas
Not only did St. Rita join the Augustinian nuns, but St. Augustine was one of her three patron saints, so Augustine would be a great possibility. St. Nicholas of Tolentino joined St. John the Baptist and St. Augustine as her third patron saint, so Nicholas works as well.

And those are my ideas! What about all of you? Can you think of any other names that could honor St. Rita?

Faaabulous Brit Catholic baby, and a fun question

One of you wonderful readers sent me the story of the birth of UK Parliament Member Jacob Rees-Mogg’s sixth baby, and then I saw it all over my FB feed! Everyone’s going gaga over this little guy! And for sure it’s because of his amazing name: Sixtus Dominic Boniface Christopher!


Indeed, Rees-Mogg is Catholic, as his baby’s name proclaims! (Also, as his sister’s name proclaims — Annunziata!) Little Sixtus is also the sixth baby! According to British Baby Names, he joins siblings:

Peter Theodore Alphege
Mary Anne Charlotte Emma
Thomas Wentworth Somerset Dunstan
Anselm Charles Fitzwilliam
Alfred Wulfric Leyson Pius

In Rees-Mogg’s announcement on IG he referred to the big sibs as Peter, Mary, Thomas, Anselm, and Alfred, so no double names or interesting nicknames as far as I know. I love seeing Anselm in the first name spot! Congratulations to the whole family!

This all brings me to what I intended to post today — Cat said in a comment a couple of weeks ago:

I’d love to see a post and comments on the most unique or out-there Catholicky Catholic name people have ever used or known a person with that name.”

I would love to know that too! I’m on my way out the door and can’t martial my thoughts to share my own, but I can’t wait to read yours!

A couple Irishy things

I was just reading through some old posts and came upon this one from two years ago — I thought you all might be interested in seeing it again, I love learning things like this! ☘

Sancta Nomina

I watched this video the other day and just died: Americans Try to Pronounce Traditional Irish Names. So true, so funny.

And I meant to post this on St. Paddy’s Day and forgot: Selected entries from “Some Common Words Derived From Christian Names” (in Withycombe):

Biddy: nickname for an Irish-woman, from the prevalence of the name Brigid in Ireland; hence old biddy, an old woman. Also used for calling chickens.

mick(e)y: temper, possibly, like Paddy, from the supposed short temper of the Irish, with whom this is a common name.

Paddy: nickname for Irishman (cf. Biddy).

paddy(whack): a rage, fit of temper. (From the supposed irascibility of the Irish.)

View original post

Birth announcement: Lilianna Mary Grace and Lucia Virginia Rose!

A mama I did a private consultation for has let me know her twin girls have arrived! They have been given the gorgeous, meaningful names … Lilianna Mary Grace and Lucia Virginia Rose!

The mama writes,

I just wanted to let you know that our baby girls were born Monday 9/5/16 via emergency csection. They are 30 weekers so they are still in the NICU, please keep both girls in your prayers.

We chose the names
Lilianna Mary Grace and we call her Lily
Lucia Virginia Rose and we call her Lucy
Lily was 3lb2oz and Lucy was 3lb10oz. If you remember they are our rainbow babies, and I began the pregnancy at the Shrine to Our Lady of Guadalupe, everyday, praying a Novena for her intercession. After that each of my doctors appointments ended up on a Marian feast day, which I did not do intentionally. I decided very early that we would give the girls Marian names. During our consultation we discussed that Lucia wasn’t completely Marian but related to Mary. I have since found out that there is an Our Lady of Light and Lucia means light, so it is more Marian than we thought.
The most amazing sign from Our Lady though happened 3 days after they were born when our priest came to give me the anointing of the sick after my csection, he also offered to baptize our girls! On The Feast of the Nativity of Mary our girls were welcomed into the church. It was beautiful.”

Can you believe all the Marian connections!! These girls were covered by her mantle the whole pregnancy, and their amazing names reflect that so beautifully!

After the initial email, I received another update on how they’re doing:

Right now we are just working on getting Lily off oxygen and possibly off her IV tomorrow if she does well. Lucy is still adjusting to eating so we are hoping she starts tolerating her milk soon.”

Please keep these beautiful babies and their family in your prayers!

Congratulations to Mom and Dad and the girls’ handsomely named big brother Erick Bruce III, and happy birthday Lily and Lucy!!


Lilianna Mary Grace in purple hat, Lucia Virginia Rose in gray hat

Lucy is smiling, Lily is cuddling ❤

Celebrity guest: Katheryn, expert on naming and adoption

Last month I told you that I’d received a request to write about names for adopted children, and so many of you gave great feedback with your experiences — I intended to put it all together along with some of my own research into a post or article (and I still might), but then one of you wonderful readers — Katheryn from the blog Bucket and Roon and Etsy shop Juniper Plum (gooorgeous icons and other beautiful things for children!) — emailed me because she has extensive experience with adoption: two of her sisters and her four children all came to her family through adoption (both international [sisters] and domestic [children]).

I already followed Katheryn on Instagram because her kiddos’ ah-MAZ-ing names had caught my attention (and also their general cuteness and amazing style! 😍), and so I was absolutely thrilled to hear more about their naming, and that of her sisters as well. I know you’ll love what she has to say!


Kate: You said you have open adoptions with all your kids. In your experience, what role does the birth mom/birth parents play in the naming of the child?

Katheryn: Generally, in domestic infant adoptions, the birth parents choose a name to go on the original birth certificate at the hospital. This is the child’s legal name until the adoption is finalized, usually at around six months of age. When the adoption is finalized, the adoptive parents are issued a new birth certificate with them listed as the child’s parents, and it is at this time that the child’s name is also legally changed to the name they have chosen. Sometimes birth parents will chose a name that is special to them, sometimes they love the name the adoptive parents have chosen so will write that name on the original birth certificate from the beginning, or sometimes they might decline to write a name at all.

Kate: Relatedly (and maybe this is answered in the first question), do you consider the birth mom/birth parents when choosing a name for your children? For example, giving the birth mom’s first name as your daughter’s middle?

Katheryn: It often means a lot to the birth parents if you try to include them in the naming somehow. I’ve heard of several adoption stories where both the parents and birth parents had picked the same name separately on their own! Some parents will offer to let them chose the middle name, or some will share a list of the names they are deciding between and let the birth parents have the final pick. Sometimes parents choose to honor their child’s birth heritage in other ways, either by naming them after a birth parent, using a name in the birth family tree, or using an initial that is the same as the birth mother’s.

Kate: Have any of your children been older when you adopted them, having already been given a name that they’ve become attached to? If so, how do you handle naming?

Katheryn: All of our children were adopted at birth, so we haven’t dealt with this, but while most families who adopt older children will choose a brand new first name, others will keep the name they have, choose a variant of that name, or choose a name that is close in sound to their birth name to help with this.

Kate: In terms of international adoption, as you said you have twin sisters who were adopted from another country, what considerations did your parents give to their cultural heritage, if any?

Katheryn: My twin sisters were adopted from Vietnam at 9 months old. My parents chose to honor their birth heritage by giving them middle names with the same meaning as the meaning of their birth names.  My sisters’ birth names meant “river” and “rose” in Vietnamese. So my parents chose the names Camille Sabrina Pia and Zellie Rose Pia for them. With international adoptions, a lot of the time parents will get very little information about their child’s background, and sometimes all the child really has of their birth history is their name.

My twin sisters are only ten — I am the eldest of 12. My parents had ten bio kids before they adopted the twins after I was married. But at the time we hadn’t met anyone else named Zellie. My parents spelled it that way to help with pronunciation issues. It’s wonderful how it seems to be booming in Catholic circles now though!

Kate: If you don’t mind sharing, I’d love to know the stories behind the naming of each of your children—both how/why you chose their names, and also what role the birth moms/parents played, if any.

Katheryn: Our oldest is Verity Majella Judea Hawthorne. Her first name is a combo name “Verity Majella,” like “Mary Elizabeth,” but we call her Verity most of the time. We fell in love with Verity because of its meaning, “truth.” Majella is after St. Gerard Majella, patron saint of mothers, to whom I grew to have a special devotion through all my years of praying for a baby. Judea is after my deceased Grandma Judy. Verity was due on her birthday and when my Grandpa found out he asked if we would consider naming Verity after her. I also loved the biblical symbolism of Judea. Hawthorne is her connection to her birth history. She was born in Missouri, and the state flower there is the White Hawthorn Blossom. She is also named after the remarkable Rose Hawthorne, daughter of Nathaniel Hawthorne.

Our second daughter is Gethsemane Juniper Anne. Gethsemane has been the name dearest to my heart since I was a girl. Back when I thought I might have a vocation, I hoped I would be able to pick it as my religious name someday. I love it because it is the name of the garden that Jesus would retreat to, a place where He would seek solace and peace- we tell our Gethsemane that it is the name of His favorite garden. I also think of it as a symbol for the beauty of choosing God’s will over our own, since it is there when in His agony Jesus prayed, “not my will, but Thine be done.” Gethsemane also means “peace,” so she is also named after Mary, Queen of Peace. Juniper is after St. Junipero Serra (my husband and I both grew up around the Missions and were married at Carmel Mission) and also Servant of God Brother Juniper, known as “the renowned jester of the Lord.” When we were matched with her birth mother, we agreed on naming her together. She wanted to choose a middle name, so she picked Anne, because it was a family name on her side and it just so happened to be a family name on my side as well.

Then came our Bosco, whose full name is Bosco Willis Yard. I was so sure that we would have another girl that we hadn’t talked about a boy name, but Bosco had been both my husband’s and my favorite boy name for many years. Can there be a better patron for a little boy than St. John Bosco? Willis Yard is the name traditionally given to the first born son on my father’s side of the family, so we knew we wanted that somewhere in his name. Bosco’s birth parents wanted his naming left completely up to us, but Will is a family name on his birth father’s side as well.

Our latest blessing is Hyacinth Clemency Veil. With our three previous adoptions we had short adoption waits, ranging from 6 weeks to 4 months. For Hyacinth we waited almost three years. Some days, the only thing that kept me believing that we were doing God’s will and that He really did call us to adopt again was her name written on my heart. Even before we adopted Bosco, one day out of the blue, God spoke the name Hyacinth to me. It had never been on any of our name lists, but just like that it was tattooed on my heart and I just knew that our next daughter was to be named Hyacinth. She is named after St. Hyacinth of Poland. Clemency is after the Divine Mercy. I am passionate about the Divine Mercy devotion, and knew I wanted to name our next child after it in some way. Hyacinth was already born when her birth mom contacted our agency, and just guess whose feast she was born on — St. Faustina’s. Her birth mother originally wanted a closed adoption, but we are forever grateful that she changed her mind and met us at the hospital. When we asked if she wanted to chose a name with us she declined, but one of the few things she shared about herself with us was that she loves the color purple. When we told her that the meaning of the name Hyacinth is “purple,” the biggest grin broke out on her face. Before that, one of the only things I didn’t like about the name Hyacinth was its meaning, since purple seemed like such a lame meaning, but it ended up being just perfect. Veil is after the Holy Protection of Our Lady, since Mary’s veil is known as a symbol of her motherly protection and care. We felt like our whole adoption process and journey to Hyacinth was wrapped in Mary’s veil of love and protection and wanted to honor her in our daughter’s name. Traditionally the image of Mary, Mother of Mercy is one of Mary shown with her veil spread out over her children. We thought that was a very special connection between Clemency and Veil!

Wasn’t this all just so beautiful? There was so much love and respect and prayer that went into each name choice! I hope you all learned as much as I did about the naming of children who come into families through adoption — thank you so much to Katheryn for sharing her experiences!


♥♥♥♥ Gethsemane Juniper Anne, Bosco Willis Yard, and Verity Majella Judea Hawthorne holding Hyacinth Clemency Veil ♥♥♥♥